A Madness So Discreet Review:
By: Claire Rankin
“I think we’re all quite mad. Some of us are just more discreet about it.”
― Mindy McGinnis, A Madness So Discreet
Vivid and stunning are both adjectives that easily can be used for A Madness So Discreet. Published in 2015, we aren’t too late with this review, so let’s dig in (and I promise as little spoilers possible).
Grace Mae has chosen not to speak. No one will listen to a young woman deemed mad, and she has been. After losing her child due to the cruelty of Boston’s most prestigious mental “hospital” in the late 1800s, though no year is specifically given in the novel, Grace is banished to the cellar to wallow in complete darkness. That is until a voice in the gloom, which urges her own from her throat again, bargains for her to be rescued by the mysterious and overly pragmatic Dr. Thornhollow. Smuggled to Ohio, she becomes the doctor’s assistant as she uses her skills of observation, and supposed silence, to aid him in the hunting of killers by the use of psychological analysis.
Mindy McGinnis uses beautiful details and an insight into the crazed to bring a gorgeous cast of characters to life. From the characters at Ohio’s mental institution to those back in Boston away from the action of the novel, McGinnis allows the readers to fall in love with all her characters. From Grace the quiet intelligent daughter of privilege to her friends Nell and Lizzie who are only institutionalized due to the their lack conformity. The staff of the hospital and the police all react in different ways to Grace and her silence in their own ways. Finally, the head of the hospital Dr. Thornhollow whose stoic nature and a lack of understanding for the perplexities of other people’s lives, or so we think, makes Grace curious.
Though the novel has several antagonists, they intertwine in a way that lends itself to an Agatha Christie novel. It is easy to see how, despite not feeling as if progress is being made while you read, the novel continues to draw you in until you find yourself at the last page wondering why you got there so quickly and begging for a sequel.
As always I have some other opinions regarding A Madness so Discreet:
“A bountiful buffet of twisted, dark intrigue. While others are writing about relatively ‘normal’ heroes and heroines, McGinnis takes the less-traveled route to bring us a heroine damaged physically and mentally, and to the far reaches of her soul. McGinnis can surely tell a story.”— USA Today
“Grace’s story shines. Every person she encounters, mad or trapped by the label of madness, feels achingly real. Readers will wish they could watch her and Thornhollow solve murders for pages and pages more.”— Kirkus Reviews
“Several storylines are threaded together in this powerful and dark book, examining the line between sanity and insanity and often indicting those who get to define that line. McGinnis extends compassion to the asylum’s most helpless patients as well as the most disturbed and violent characters.”— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
A Madness So Discreet can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other bookstores. If you are interested please grab copy. It was engaging and fascinating. Happy reading folks, on all of your literary adventures! 🙂